Reducing Cervical Retrolisthesis With Long-Term Monthly Chiropractic Maintenance Care: A Case Report

Eric Chun-Pu Chu


The present case study aimed to demonstrate the subtle effectiveness of 13-year chiropractic maintenance care (MC) in a patient with cervical radiculopathy associated with retrolisthesis. Retrolisthesis is the backward slippage of one vertebral body with respect to the subjacent vertebra. This slippage can lead to spinal nerve root compression or irritation (radiculopathy). A 44-year-old woman presented with relapsing episodes of pain in her neck radiating down her right arm and hand for 12 months. Neurological examination revealed sensory deficits in the right C5 dermatome. Cervical radiography showed grade 1 retrolisthesis of C3 on C4 and of C4 on C5, and sclerosis over the upper endplate of the C4, C5, and C6 vertebrae. The patient was diagnosed with right C5 radiculopathy associated with vertebral retrolisthesis. She was conservatively treated with multimodal chiropractic care comprising cervical manipulation applied to the affected segments, axial distraction, and isometric stretching. After 20 sessions over 3 months of therapy, the patient experienced complete relief of neck pain and radicular symptoms, and full cervical mobility. Because her complaints were characterized by relapsing episodes, she was enrolled in a monthly MC program to monitor and ensure the spine was functioning at its highest capacity. The MC program included disease monitoring, manipulation of dysfunctional segments, cervical strengthening exercises, and ergonomics coaching. Monthly care was shown to be successful in maintaining an asymptomatic status. Moreover, a gradual reduction in cervical retrolisthesis was observed during the 13-year MC period, and the ongoing MC ensured optimal spine functioning.

J Med Cases. 2022;13(7):359-364


Cervical alignment; Maintenance care; Radiculopathy; Retrolisthesis; Spinal manipulation; Spondylolisthesis

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